Chang’e and The Mooncake Festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated in parts all over Asia
September 21, 2021
In China, during the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 Zhōng qiū jié) people celebrate by gathering for dinners, worshiping and admiring the moon, lighting lanterns, and eating mooncakes. The celebration date of the Mid-Autumn Festival can be different every year. This year Mid-Autumn Festival falls on September 21, 2021, when the moon is at its brightest. Eating mooncake is one way to celebrate Moon Festival. Mooncakes can either be baked or fried and filled with various numbers of sweet pastes including red bean paste, lotus seed paste, black sesame, mixed nuts, coconut, and egg yolks.
There is a popular myth told during the Mid-Autumn Festival that goes like this:
Long ago, there were ten suns in the sky. It was always sunny and there was no such thing as night. The ten suns made the weather extremely hot, and due to the extreme heat it was impossible to farm crops which endangered populations. One day, a skilled archer named Hou Yi (后羿) shot down nine suns leaving only one sun. The goddess Xiwangmu (西王母) rewarded Hou Yi with a pill of immortal life.
If Hou Yi consumed the pill, it would make him immortal and live forever. Hou Yi felt conflicted and didn’t want to leave his beautiful wife Chang’e, so he decided to hide the pill under his bed. One night, Chang’e had found the pill and consumed it herself.
Hou Yi woke up and realized his wife was nowhere to be found. Hou Yi went outside only to see Chang’e floating up towards the moon. Chang’e became the goddess of the moon and Hou Yi was left alone and miserable on Earth. From that day forth, he would often stare up at the moon and leave out his wife’s favorite desserts and fruits. He performed this ritual until the day he died.